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Brad Wellen

Is Hugh Hefner Really The Top Dog At Playboy?

After it was reported in January that Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was taking control of Playboy Enterprises Inc., it appeared as though Hef was calling the shots and all was right in the bunny universe.  According to Jeff Bercovici of Forbes however, Hefner is really more of a figurehead whose title as owner is more honorary than it is rooted in any real controlling power.  Hefner is actually the junior partner of Icon Acquisition Holding LP and — by Moody’s Investors Service estimations — holds a 37 percent stake in the company.

A controlling 60 percent share of the venture is owned by Rizvi Traverse Management, the private equity firm involved in the Playboy buyout.  The remaining 3 percent belongs to Playboy CEO Scott Flanders.  While the numbers indicate that Hef is a minority partner, he still carries plenty of the perks of ownership including a $1 million annual salary, editorial control of Playboy, and continued lodging in the Playboy mansion for a small fee.

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Time Undergoes A Redesign

While Tina Brown has been showing off Newsweek 2.0, Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel and executive editor Nancy Gibbs have made some changes of their own.  While the body of each issue will stay untouched, the Briefing section will now feature shorter news stories and contain a two-page spread for the best image of the week.  The “Washington” section has been redubbed to “Nation” and now extends beyond D.C.  Overseeing the first redesign in three years, Time publisher Kim Kelleher is confident that first quarter ad pages will increase over 2010’s results.

Stephen Gregory Barr To Serve As Group Publisher/SVP Of Ebony And Jet

Johnson Publishing Company has turned to print industry veteran Stephen Gregory Barr to fill the post of SVP and group publisher at Ebony and Jet magazines.  Barr will oversee development and execution of the publishing department’s editorial agenda and act as a key player in the sale of print, digital, and sponsorship material related to Ebony and Jet.  JPC CEO Desiree Rogers is optimistic that Barr will be a valuable addition to the company.

Bringing Stephen on at this time is part of our overall strategy to continue to build the strength of Ebony and Jet as the most influential titles in the urban market place. Barr’s proven track record of building value for both consumers of and advertisers in print will bolster the team of top-in-class publishing professionals that we have named at JPC in recent months.

Prior to joining JPC, Barr was publisher of OK! magazine and also held publishing titles at VIVmag and InStyle magazine group.  He worked in sales and advertising roles at former Rodale title Backpacker, Esquire, the Elle magazine group, and National Geographic Traveler. Barr will begin work in his new position on Feb. 21 and report to Rogers at JPC’s New York offices.

Tina Brown Tweaks Newsweek

Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown has been busy showing off her revamped magazine to potential advertisers and the media buyers are all in agreement about one thing: she has certainly made her mark with a brand new design.  The Newsweek mock-up had heavier stock and features George Clooney on the cover.  The issue includes a story on the Clooney’s political preferences, a move that signals a return to the celebrity-heavy coverage that characterized Brown’s editorial approach at Vanity FairNewsweek is also considering a change in their distribution schedule with a move from Monday to Friday delivery, however a company spokesperson said the delivery date to newsstands will remain the same.  An unnamed media executive was pleased with Brown’s spin on Newsweek and did not pull punches when discussing how it has improved under new leadership.

The bar was set pretty low by Jon Meacham and Tom Ascheim.  I think this is a big step in the right direction.  I think the Newsweek name has authority and credibility with readers still.

FishbowlNY Newsstand: Your Morning At A Glance

Saveur To Launch Restaurant Review Column

Saveur readers will notice something new in the upcoming March issue of the culinary magazine.  The title is debuting a new section that will feature restaurant reviews written by a variety of Saveur contributors as well as guest authors such as John Mariana, Gael Greene, Betsy Andrews, and Jay Rayner.  Reviews will showcase dining locations across the globe and, according to editor-in-chief James Oseland, will serve as “expansive, thoughtful pieces about very interesting restaurants of the moment.”  Raphael Brion of Eater spoke with Oseland and got an idea of what to expect from Savuer’s newest column.

With a lot of our favorite contributors — in their usual daily lives and work, in fact, as restaurant reviewers — we just ultimately realized, wow, it would be a really splendid thing to give some of our favorite writers a forum in which to write long-form restaurant reviews. Reviews that could almost stand up more as essays, as deeper think-pieces than trade make-or-break reviews.

Senior editor Betsy Andrews, who will lend her voice to Savuer’s restaurant review pages, is also leading’s Food Writing Boot Camp.  Andrews will help participants develop a portfolio of food-related stories and impart her wisdom on the following skills:

  • How to really read a food magazine
  • How to write a pitch an editor can’t turn down
  • How to break into a print or online food magazine (and where)
  • How to edit yourself
  • How to find your niche within the food-writing community

The class will take place in three-hour evening sessions and run six weeks from Tuesday Mar. 8 – Apr. 12.  Meetings will be held in Midtown East and registration costs $425.

Condé Nast Debuts Gourmet Italian Kitchen Today

Although it may not be met with quite the same amount of excitement as the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, another new magazine hit newsstands across the nation today — Gourmet Italian Kitchen.  The second installment of the special edition publication features over 80 Italian and Italian-American recipes organized by categories such as light, kid-friendly, easy entertaining, vegetarian, and editors’ favorite.  The magazine also contains a trio of regionally-themed Italian menus and wine suggestions by wine director of NYC’s The Modern Belinda Chang.

Gourmet Italian Kitchen was edited by Condé Nast’s executive editor of content development Catherine Kelly.  Former executive food editor of Gourmet Kemp Minifie served as food editor.  The magazine is available on newsstands and online at for $10.99.

Apple Shakes Up Digital Subscription Program For Publishers

Taking a page from News Corp.’s model for The Daily, Apple has green lit a new subscription plan for publishers that distribute their digital content through the app store.  The program, which was announced today, will affect hordes of magazine and newspaper publishers including many of the titles that already have their products available in the app store such as The New York Times and New Yorker. The New York Observer received the following news from Apple about their subscription format.

Publishers set the price and length of subscription (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or yearly). Then with one-click, customers pick the length of subscription and are automatically charged based on their chosen length of commitment (weekly, monthly, etc.).

Apple CEO Steve Jobs further clarified the profit breakdown between his company and contributing publishers.

Our philosophy is simple – when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing.

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Daily Editor-In-Chief Jesse Angelo Implores Writers To Go Above And Beyond

In the near two weeks since News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch rolled out The Daily, everyone and their mother has offered up their opinion on the iPad-only newspaper.  Whether you are a fan of The Daily or not, one thing that cannot be denied is that The Daily is not resting happily after their debut, in fact editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo has sent out an edict to his editorial department asking them to ramp up their level of reporting.  Take a look at his full memo, courtesy of The Daily Intel, after the jump.

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FishbowlNY Newsstand: Your Morning At A Glance